Updated: Mar 11, 2020
We were invited to a friend’s sixtieth birthday party and the dress code was a 60s theme. On the electronic invitation the hosts, my friend’s children, helpfully and charmingly provided a link to a page with costume suggestions. I will forgive these naïve twenty-somethings for thinking that their mother’s friends had not lived during the 60s or had ever seen an episode of Mad Men.
I was alive for six years of the 60s, born in 1964. I’ll save you the trouble of having to subtract – my least favorite mathematical operation. I will be fifty-six this year, and believe me, I feel every one of those years. But being so young during the bulk of that decade, I don’t have personal memories of 60s fashion sense. I learned everything from reruns of Gilligan’s Island.
My own fashion recollections begin with the 70s, when I wore fluorescent green sear-sucker bellbottoms with a hot pink ruffled top. Like every other elementary school kid in 1972, I dressed like the state of Florida would dress if it could wear clothes.
Of course, I had nothing in my closet that would work for the party. Not true for Mr. Hockey (my current husband). All he needed to wear was a turtleneck and a blazer, or a suit with a thin tie, or a tie-dye shirt, jeans and flip flops, all of which he owns. I guess nothing has really changed since the 60s. Men still have it easier.
I turned to the internet to find an outfit. I was a little worried. I don’t have a 60s body-shape. I’m more Hairspray’s Tracy Turnblad than Twiggy. Luckily, there’s something for everyone on the world wide web. I quickly found an A-line velour dress in a vibrant royal blue, a color well-suited for the television show Laugh-In. And that was it. I had my look: chubby Goldie Hawn.
Next was hair and makeup.
One of the reasons I’m a writer is so I don’t have to leave my house. Also, the pay. I make huge bucks.
Because I don’t leave the house much, I don’t put a lot of effort into my appearance. I write in my gym clothes and my dad’s old holey brown cashmere V-neck, or sometimes in my pajamas. My hair is in a ponytail and I don’t wear make-up. I wander around my house in baby blue Crocs. And lately, when I do leave the house, I slip those off and put on my galoshes. I am a vision of splendor at the Stop & Shop.
This is not to say that I can’t put myself together. I clean up fine. My hair usually looks good because I chemically straighten it several times a year with a “safe” form of formaldehyde. Poisoning my scalp and smelling like preserved specimens from a ninth-grade biology class, is well worth the avoidance of bad hair days. Plus, the chemicals in the straightener make my peroxide highlights last longer. My motto is better hair through chemistry.
I drop the ball with cosmetics. I hate putting on makeup. I’m too lazy and too uncoordinated to apply it well. Recently, I saw a girl on the subway completely change her entire face with foundation, eyebrow pencils, the works – all without a mirror. She made it look so easy, and yet I still wasn’t inspired to change my ways.
So even if I do bother to shower, dry my hair, and wear street clothes, when you see me in the Citarella, you’re still going to see my pale, blemished, freckly skin, the steamer trunks under my eyes, and one eyelid that is inexplicably darker than the other. I prefer to woo the fishmonger – and the world – with my inner beauty.
None of this was going to fly if I was going to achieve my Laugh-In go-go dancer look for the birthday party. I made an appointment at the Amagansett Salon & Day Spa, and when I arrived, I told the stylists, “sock it to me, baby!”
Berta teased my hair into a bouffant with a proper Mary Tyler Moore flip at the ends. Elena patiently applied my false eyelashes and makeup. Her first attempt made me look like Mimi Bobeck from The Drew Carey Show, scarier than the Goldie vibe I wanted. Eventually, I emerged from the makeup room looking like a Laugh-Indancer, at least from the neck up.
I highly recommend getting dolled up on a Saturday afternoon. To put it in Laugh-In terms, it was far out! I felt glamorous. Berta and Elena were thrilled to create a different look from their typical Saturday “natural bride.” As we giggled in the salon, a customer asked me if I was going to a party. I wanted to say no – that I was just going to the King Kullen. I would love to see the guys at the deli counter hand a pound of turkey to me in my full bouffant and false eyelashes.
The party guests brought their 60s game. A couple women bought thrift shop pillbox hats to match their Jackie Kennedy-style dresses. Another woman wore her college cheerleading outfit from 1968. And she swore she could still do a split! We were all overjoyed to celebrate our friend who looked beautiful in her Marvelous Mrs. Maisel dress and bouffant hair. As they said in the 60s, it was a blast.
East Hampton Press, March 4, 2020